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Travel > Things to Look For

For short trips (2 weeks or less)
Assuming you already have good coverage with your regular health insurance plan, you may only need a small supplemental plan, with features like emergency evacuation and 24 hour worldwide assistance, along with a limited benefit for medical expenses ($10,000 to $50,000 is typical). These plans are readily available and may include lost luggage and trip cancellation/interruption protection too. Be careful with plans that require you to pay all bills yourself and then seek reimbursement when you return home.

For intermediate trips (2 weeks to 6 months)
The longer you are away the less likely it is your US-based plan will cover you, so you should place more importance on the medical benefits of the plan. In addition to a higher emergency evacuation benefit, your plan should cover between $100,000 and $1 million in medical expenses. Other features to look for include coverage for a family member to come to your assistance if you are hospitalized in a foreign country, and an option to include "hazardous activities" such as scuba diving, skiing and bungee jumping.

For longer trips (6 months or longer)
The travel insurance you purchase will most likely be your primary or only health insurance. Be sure that your plan includes all of the above, with higher maximum benefits ($1 million or more) as well as some provision for coverage when you return home. If you spend a year abroad but return home for even a short time, make sure you are still covered.

Multi-year or Open-ended trips
Standard travel medical insurance plans are usually limited to one year, with the option to renew for another year. If you think you will be abroad for longer, look into a permanent international major medical plan. International major medical coverage contains all the benefits of a travel medical plan, with the difference that once you are accepted, you can keep your coverage year after year by just paying the premium. Most importantly, you are covered for medical treatment anywhere in the world, including back here in the USA. Note that these plans are medically underwritten, and people with prior health problems may have trouble obtaining coverage.

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